Tashi Hansen du Toit was 15 years old when her mother, Karen, suffered a severe haemorrhagic stroke which left her with multiple physical and cognitive impairments. This beautifully written and poignant account tells Tashi’s story from the first moments after her mother’s stroke, following her and her family through the experience of her mother’s hospitalisation and rehabilitation. Tashi offers a rare glimpse into the impact of her mother’s stroke on her family and on her life as a teenager as she juggles the stresses and demands of family, school, and friends alongside coping with her mother’s brain injury. As she describes how she is learning to cope with her unresolved grief three years on, she provides hope, perspective, and insight on how to work towards growth and acceptance despite the catastrophe of a parent’s stroke.
Presenting the rarely heard adolescent perspective on parental brain injury, Tashi’s moving story also features Karen’s account as she comes to terms with her experience. This authentic book offers great support to others, particularly teenagers, who may be going through a similar experience. It is also valuable reading for those working in brain injury services and the education system, and for any professional or student involved in neurorehabilitation or supporting families of parents with brain injury.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Barbara A. Wilson
Chapter 1: My mother’s stroke
Chapter 2. We’re in this together
Chapter 3. Anger is one letter short of danger
Chapter 4. Identity check
Chapter 5. That’s where the light gets in…
Chapter 6. What in my life is consistent?
Tashi Hansen du Toit is the daughter of Karen Hansen and Pieter du Toit. In 2018, while Tashi was completing her GCSE exams, her mother had a stroke. After completing her A-levels in 2021, Tashi is taking a gap year.
Pieter du Toit is the father of Tashi Hansen du Toit and husband of Karen Hansen. Pieter works as a clinical psychologist specialising in neuropsychology at the Oliver Zangwill Centre for Neuropsychological Rehabilitation in Ely, UK and in private practice in Cambridge, UK.
"This is a raw, honest, poignant and powerful account written by a teenager whose life has fallen apart following her mother having a stroke. All too often our academic textbooks consider the survivor of an acquired brain injury and do not look at the trauma those around them face. This young lady was embarking on her teenage years, finding her own identity, carving out her future when fate intervened and her life changed. The reader is taken through a journey of grief, loss, compassion, learned helplessness and hope and will find themselves crying and laughing with Tashi and I can guarantee the reader will not put the book down untouched by her account of life during this hugely challenging time. One lesson we as Clinicians working in the field of acquired brain injury should take away is the importance of asking the family how they are, engaging with them away from their loved one, ensuring their needs are met as much as the patients we treat - this I believe is holistic neurorehabilitation." - Dr Anita Rose, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist at Renovo Care Group
"This account of a teenager’s experience of her mother’s stroke is undeniably a raw, emotional and deeply insightful read. Tashi Hansen Du Toit, along with her father Pieter DuToit, have successfully expressed what a lot of families experience when their loved one has a stroke. Tashi writes beautifully about her experience, her thoughts, her fears and her hopes. The family’s vulnerability in writing about their experience will be valuable to families, as well as those who provide care for stroke patients. Adolescents are often under a significant amount of pressure when it comes to school, social situations and their developing identity; to endure a parent’s stroke at that time creates a unique situation which is often different to other members of the family. The advice provided in this book is useful, not only to teenagers, but to all who experience the ambiguous loss associated with changes after stroke. I was lucky enough to support Tashi’s mum during her rehab and witness her determination, perseverance and the deep love she has for and received from her family; this love shines through this written account and I believe that this book will prove helpful to those that read it." - Alexandra Rose CPsychol, PGDipNeuro, Principal Clinical Psychologist, The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, Putney, London